Artist discovers his own creativity through family

Published 1:39 pm Wednesday, July 13, 2022

By Angela Cutrer
Special to the Elizabethton Star
Greg Andrews of Hampton knows all about creativity, sacrifice and love. His life is full of it.
And Andrews pretty much wants to talk about everyone else in his family — anyone but himself. He said he’s not sure why anyone would want to talk to him about his artwork.
After all, it’s his wife who has the true talent in the relationship, he’ll tell you.
But Greg Andrews doesn’t give himself enough credit.
Andrews was a Veterans Administration nurse for 12 years, but had to retire four years ago due to several back issues that put him in the hospital for numerous surgeries.
His wife, Kristal, is a medical assistant. “She’s the creative one,” Andrews said. “She makes T-shirt quilts, she draws, she bakes, she even drew the logo for our band.”
Yes, that’s right — Andrews’ is also in a band. But we’ll get to that later.
Andrews began his artistic career when someone saw some social media posts that included woodworking. “They saw this guy making some floaty shelves — you know the kind I mean?” he said. “And someone told me about them. And then, I saw that this guy made American flags, and they were beautiful.”
Someone told Andrews he ought to do that.
So, he did.
Most of his work involves concealment tables, tabletops and shelving that are opened only by way of a fingerprint lock. Most have an engraved American flag as the artwork. Andrews carves stars in them and then uses woodburning or traditional red, white and blue paint.
Either way, the work is stunning in its patriotic focus and professional workmanship. The colors are deep and imperishable, the corners mitered and true.
However, Andrews is not set in his ways. “Once, I did a Harley-Davidson emblem on one, and it was gorgeous,” he said, adding that he was open to whatever a customer might request. He has already built his wife a cedar chest, a customer a hanging concealment shelf and another a concealment coffee table.
But that’s not all he can build. The first — and so far, the only — casket he ever built was because his father-in-law insisted. It pains Andrews to even discuss it.
“He asked me about it once, and I said ‘uhhh’ and that was all,” Andrews said. “Then one day he showed up with a big load of cedar, and, well, that was that. So I built it. He’s thrilled with it, so that was good.”
Unfortunately, his father-in-law is now on hospice, Andrews sadly notes. But he’s glad he could do that for the gentleman, even if it was an unique request that brought up feelings best kept on the quiet.
Kristal Andrews once made a TicTok to show the world what her husband can do, and it generated a lot of interest. But now, with the way the country is suffering, “I guess no one has any money to be buying such things right now,” Andrews said.
But there’s still the band.
Called Generation Gap (Kristal came up with that creative name, too), it involves the Andrews’ son, Jared, 23, on lead guitar and vocals, and Josh Grape, on bass and lead vocals. Greg Andrews adds rhythm guitar and vocals to the mix.
“We play classic rock, old and new country and the blues,” Andrews said. “We’ve played at the local Moose Club in Johnson City and at Jiggy Rays Pizza in Elizabethton. We sure enjoy it.”
Andrews said he’s been into playing for a long time — it’s something he can do with his son. “One day hopefully our other son, Bryceon, 21, can play with us,” Andrews said. “And yes, my wife came up with that spelling. But it would be great to have both of them playing with me.”
And there is yet another son in the mix — the youngest boy, Chayse, 18. And he’s talented as well.
“He’s known as the local legend,” Andrews said with a huge laugh. “He’s awesome at karaoke. When we drive up and people see Chayse is coming, they’ll yell out his name and wave.”
And Chayse gives them a big grin right back.
One song Chayse likes to sing to is “Won’t Back Down,” first made famous by rocker Tom Petty, who wrote the song with partner Jeff Lynne.
These words from the song seem to suit Chayse’s situation:
“Well I know what’s right, I got just one life
in a world that keeps on pushin’ me around
but I’ll stand my ground, and I won’t back down”
Chayse lives with a rare leukodystrophy called Alexander’s Disease. It’s somewhat like ALS. “As of right now, there is no cure and no treatment available,” his father said. “He was diagnosed at age 12 and he is now 18. He recently graduated high school and insisted he was gonna walk across the stage with the rest of his classmates.
“He is a local celebrity and karaoke king. But he is much more than that. He is an inspiration and hero to all who know him. People seem to be drawn to him and love him instantly.
“He is truly a gift and we’re all better for being able to be a part of his life.”
Greg Andrews seems satisfied with his life and the creative people he calls his family. No matter what life may throw at them, they won’t back down.
They don’t have to — they’ve got each other.
Anyone interested in Andrews creating a specially made, one-of-a-kind item can find him on Facebook. His products have been priced in the $75 to $400 range, but it really comes down to what the customer and Andrews decide together on the product.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox